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  • Kane Lew

The Beetle Diffuser

Updated: May 1, 2022

I had seen some beautiful images taken of small critters, snakes, and amphibians with this diffuser, the results looked very stunning. I had tinkered with a few DIY diffusers made at home, but I wasn't very satisfied with the end results. The images weren't bad by any means but my images still missed that 'Oomph' factor. So I decided to bite the dust and invest in the beetle diffuser and see the results for myself. It is mainly meant for macro/micro photography but you can also try shooting close-up portraitures if you are into that genre of photography. Things that you need: An external flash for it to work as it is designed for the same. The brand of the flash doesn't really matter, a rectangular flash head is preferable. (Nikon, Canon, Sony, Godox, Yongnue, etc) A larger flash is recommended, e.g. A Godox TT685 to a Godox TT350. The diffuser fits better on a larger flash head. A DSLR camera and a lens above the focal length of 90mm are recommended. A 1:1 macro lens is preferred. Once assembled the diffuser simply fits onto the external flash head with the help of two Velcro straps. What's inside?: It comes in a nice plastic zippered pouch; the diffuser comprises of 5 individual parts and a small power bank for LED lights. We will talk more about the LED lights in a bit. 2 Sections for the top 1 Bottom panel with LED light 1 White diffuser 1 White reflector for bounce fill light

2 Velcro straps 1 5000mAh rechargeable Power bank Build Quality: The material of the diffuser is mainly plastic but it looks nice and feels sturdy. Black plastic on the outside and a textured reflective surface on the inside.

The individual parts join together using snap buttons which are fused into the plastic material. The snap buttons are adhered well, they make it easy to assemble the diffuser. Some care is needed while disassembling the diffuser, take your time in doing so. The white diffusing sheet and the bounce light piece are made of the same material. The thickness of the white material is just right to let the light from the flash head pass through and at the same time give it some rigidity as well. The LED light adheres to the inside of the bottom panel it is bright and works well as an autofocus assist light while shooting critters in the dark. The 5000mAh power bank is about 100gms in weight and can power the LEDs for approximately 7 hours. It does have an on-off switch on the side that cuts off the power when pressed for about 10 secs.

Some images of the assembled diffuser in various angles.

It's fairly large in size once assembled; the large size is what gives you the soft light to make the subject stand out and reduce harsh shadows. Having said that only soft light alone doesn't make a pretty image, the subject, the foreground, and the background are all as important to make an image work. Some basic knowledge of macro photography and camera skills are required to get the optimum results from this diffuser. The image below will give you a sense of how large the diffuser is. I use a Nikon D850/D800 with a vertical battery grip, Tamron 90mm 1:1 VC macro lens, and a Godox TT685 flash.

External flash with the diffuser mounted on camera.

Light Quality:

The larger the diffuser the softer and more pleasing the light quality. The light wraps around better reducing cast shadows and altering specular highlights. A comparison between my DIY light diffuser which is a lot smaller than the beetle diffuser creates harsher shadows as the spread of light is not very large. As illustrated in the image below, the beetle diffuser brings out better natural tones, slightly on the warmer side. The light is nice and soft with good overall illumination in the image. The DIY diffuser light is a little cooler with more prominent cast shadows. Yes, the white balance is not a deal-breaker if you compare the cost-effectiveness of the DIY diffuser. White balance can be easily corrected or changed to one's liking in post-processing. The quality of light is where the DIY diffuser lacks.

Desert Rose Flower Image EXIF: 1/40s | f/14 | ISO 100 | WB 5000K

Desert Rose Flower Image EXIF: 1/40s | f/14 | ISO 100 | WB 5000K

In the above image the light spread is larger using the Beetle diffuser, hence the light quality is better. See the center of the flower, the DIY diffuser doesn't fill the inner portion of the flower. On-field Experience: It does take a little getting used to at first due to its large size, once you adapt to it the workaround becomes easy. It gets a little tricky when you're shooting in tight spaces, dense shrubs, bushes, etc. A longer focal length like a 200mm macro lens will work much better as it will give you more working distance. Though it takes around 5 to 7 mins to assemble, it is not as easy as popping a small softbox onto the flash head and getting going. So be prepared to sit patiently and assemble it before you step into the field. Paper Wasp Image EXIF: 1/125s | f/14 | ISO 250 | WB 5400K

Paper wasp
Head on with a Paper Wasp

Asian Citrus Psyllid Nymphs with an ant Image EXIF: 1/80s | f/16 | ISO 100 | WB 5000K

Asian citrus psyllid nymphs
Ants collect the honeydew produced by Asian citrus psyllid nymphs, to feed their colonies.

Mealybugs Image EXIF: 1/40s | f/16 | ISO 100 | WB 5000K

Mealybugs shot without the bottom reflective panel
Mealybugs shot with the bottom reflective panel to reduce the cast shadows

Jumping Spider (Telamonia dimidiata) Image EXIF: 1/80s | f/16 | ISO 100 | WB 5000K

Lynx Spider
Jumping Spider riding a wave

Bugs Life! Image EXIF: 1/80s | f/16 | ISO 100 | WB 5000K

Ants, a ladybird nymph, and aphids having a party. Image shot with the bottom reflective panel.

Jumping Spider (Carrhotus) on Indian Head Ginger plant Image EXIF: 1/80s | f/16 | ISO 100 | WB 5000K

Jumping Spider
Two large telescopic eyes help the the jumping spider gauge the distance it has to jump.

Spider Lily Image EXIF: 1/200s | f/5.6 | ISO 100 | WB 5000K

Pollen on stamen
Pollen grains on the stamen of a spider lily flower

Jumping Spider (Carrhotus) on Indian Head Ginger plant Image EXIF: 1/80s | f/16 | ISO 100 | WB 5000K

Jumping Spider
A jumping spider alert and ready to jump

Dark Blue Butterfly Image EXIF: 1/320s | f/7.1 | ISO 100 | WB 5000K

Dark Blue Butterfly

Small Red Ant with Aphids Image EXIF: 1/80s | f/14 | ISO 100 | WB 5000K

Ant with aphids
Balancing the ambient light with flash

Pros: Very good diffused lighting due to the large surface area. Light in weight and compact and easy to carry when disassembled. Good build quality. LED light for autofocus assist. 5000 mAh power bank that runs for approximately 7 hours on a single charge. Cons: Little restrictive in compact spaces, dense shrubs, or bushes. The bottom reflective panel when attached makes it even more difficult to get close to the subject if there isn't enough space. Overall: It is a good product to invest in if you're looking to get a readymade solution to soft lighting for macro photography. I'm really happy with the results looking forward to using this more extensively. You can purchase it here: Or contact HB VARUN on +91 98650 76600

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